Hazards & Risk in the Workplace

What is a Hazard?

Hazard is the term given to anything that has the potential to cause you harm, injury , illness and even death.

What are the 5 types of workplace hazards?

There are 5 recognized hazards most likely to be encountered in any workplace , these include

  1. Physical Hazards
  2. Chemical Hazards
  3. Biological Hazards
  4. Ergonomic Hazards
  5. Psychological Hazards

Define Risk in terms of OHS?

Risk is the likelihood of a person or worker being harmed ( injured / disabled . fatality ) or suffering an illness if exposed to a hazard

Using the Hierarchy of Control to Control Hazards and minimize Risk

These controls an be used in combination from the most effective to least effective to minimize risk of injury or illness happening.

1.Elimination – for example if chemical A is likely to cause high risk of illness to workers in a lab , Chemical A can be removed entirely ( elimination ) from the lab

2.Substitution – Chemical A can be removed entirely and instead substituted with a lesser harmful chemical B.

3.Isolation – Chemical B can be used using isolation barriers between the human workers and the hazardous work process eg. Fume Cupboard so that exposure to chemical fumes is reduced even further.

4.Engineering Controls – Lab installs chemical fume extractor so when using Chemical B all fumes is extracted away from the working area

5.Administrative Controls – Lab institutes Safe Work Procedures when using Chemical B to reduce human errors and make work process more safe.There is mandatory safety training to staff and work periods of Lab staff is reduced ,a preventative maintenance schedules of Lab equipment is done and safety signs are placed in visible locations in the lab to denote a hazard and protective measures to take.

6.Personal Protective Equipment – Lab institutes requirement for all Lab users to wear mandatory personal safety equipment.Examples Lab dust coat, safety glasses , closed safety shoes and the safe use of safety emergency showers and eye wash facilities.


1. PHYSICAL HAZARDS  is defined as physical forces / factors within the environment that can harm the body by direct or indirect contact





Common Examples of Physical hazards include

  • Exposed Electrical wires & components that can result in Electrocutions or Fire , Radiation,Vibration , Extreme Cold and heat
  • Uneven or slippery surfaces that can lead to slip & trip and falls
  • Fall from heights and natural disasters eg.Cyclones,earthquakes
  • High energy mechanical forces causing crush ,penetrating and blunt injuries, motor vehicle accidents
  • Loud noise that can lead to hearing impairment

Smart Phones : Using Hand Mobile Phones in a non smart manner is very unsafe potentially deadly eg. whilst driving or walking across roads

Video ( Texting while driving )  Video 2 ( texting while walking  )

To Report or Seek Assistance for Physical Hazards – Contact USP OHS Officer


Chemicals generally have health and physical hazardous effects on humans

Physical Hazards include those flammable , combustible , explosive chemical compounds





Health Hazards from chemicals include those cause poisoning e.g. from toxins , carcinogens , irritants , corrosives.




To Report or Request Assistance in dealing with Chemical Hazards Contact EHS Officer and / or FSTE Chief Technician  





Biological hazards are living microbial organisms that have the potential to cause infection , illness and death to exposed persons. These include viruses ,bacteria , fungi ,protozoa ,etc.

These agents can be transmitted to humans from other humans or from animals and insects through bites , touch, inhalation , sexual or vertical transmission or via blood transfusions.

Examples include

  • Ebola Virus from infected persons
  • Leptospirosis from contact with contaminated water and urine of affected animals eg. on farms.

Specific biological hazard signs are placed in university workplaces where biological hazards are present , so follow all safety procedures in these areas at all times.

To Report or Seek Assistance regarding Biological Hazards – Contact USP EHS Officer and FSTE Chief Technician 


Ergonomic Hazard is defined as a physical factor within the work environment physical that harms the musculoskeletal system of worker doing that activity.

A large proportion of work and workplaces may require the human body to exert ” stress ” itself beyond its normal posture ,movement and coordination, in most instances the task or tasks may require the use of machinery and tools.

These work and workplace stresses if not addressed effectively can lead to accumulative functional disorders especially on the musculoskeletal and nerve structures of the human body.

It is important that these workplaces , tools and equipment used is designed to fit the worker to mitigate against these ergonomic hazards .

Common Ergonomic Hazard Areas

  • office workstation or factory processing areas
  • equipment layout and operation
  • Computer systems
  • Noise , Lighting , Ventilation and Thermal environment
  • Confined Spaces

To Report / Request assistance for Ergonomic Hazards– Contact USP EHS Officer 


These are defined as any occupational hazard that affects the psychological wellbeing of workers .These include but not limited to workplace stress , workplace violence and bullying.

It is important for supervisors and senior managers within the university to have an open door policy when dealing with these issues so that staff can discuss these with them within the workplace.

Psychosocial Hazards are to be reported by staff to 

6.What to do when dealing with Hazards at this University

A.Report the Hazard immediately to the following persons

  1. Workplace Supervisor / Head of Department
  2. Workplace OHS Rep
  3. OHS Team

Use USP Identified Hazard Report Form A01 and email to ohs(at)usp.ac.fj

b.If the hazard is small and safe enough to move – remove it from that location to a safer area.

c.If you are unable to remove the hazard – Place a temporary sign – Do Not Enter or Safety barrier

d.Contact authorities eg.USP Estate and Infrastructure , Campus Director to make this area safe again.

7.Safety Improvement Notice ( SIN )

A designated OHS officer of the university shall issue a Safety Improvement Notice to the head of department or school where a serious safety issue has been identified , that requires immediate corrective action.

Safety Improvement Notice Procedure

Safety Improvement Notice form

USP Chat Service
Lets start: